A letter signed by Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and ranking member Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., was sent April 20 to the comptroller of the GAO, asking for the investigation into the 15 percent drop in fed cattle prices in the second half of 2015.

Cooper david
Managing Editor / Progressive Cattle

“Since the drop in fed cattle prices presents significant implications for consumers, producers and business, we request ... an assessment of the cause of the 2015 price drop, including a review of the structure of the market and of any possible anticompetitive conduct.”

R-CALF CEO Bill Bullard, in his letter written in January to the committee, requested Congress learn more about how prices fell drastically, even with tight cattle supplies and growing beef demand that represented fundamentals to support high prices. “During the third and fourth quarters of 2015, cattle prices collapsed farther and faster than during any time in history, and the unprecedented volatility in the cattle futures market rendered it useless for price discovery purposes,” Bullard wrote.

That decline led to losses exceeding $500 per head but with no economic explanation. Industry analysts have failed to explain what happened in that run, and Bullard said a “severe anomaly in U.S. cattle markets” appears to have done harm to the producers and consumers.

Bullard criticized the packer industry for its accusation that feeders kept cattle too long, calling it “nonsense as only a small percentage of cattle are not directly controlled by meat-packers, and some of the remaining independent cattle feeders reported that meat-packers were purposely delaying cattle delivery dates.”


GAO is a non-partisan agency tasked with independent review of federal government spending, with the ability to audit and investigate for Congress.  end mark

David Cooper